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The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective Reviews

The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective by Susannah Stapleton

The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective

Secrets and Lies in the Golden Age of Crime

Susannah Stapleton

3.67 out of 5

4 reviews

Imprint: Picador
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 11 Jun 2019
ISBN: 9781509867295

The enthralling true story of the curious life and career of Maud West, one of Britain's first and best-known female detectives.

  • The BooksellerEditor's Choice
4 stars out of 5
Caroline Sanderson
8 Mar 2019

"I loved this scintillating and sleuthily researched account of the curious life and career of Maud West"

I loved this scintillating and sleuthily researched account of the curious life and career of Maud West, one of Britain's first and best-known female detectives who ran her own detective agency from London's New Oxford Street for more than 30 years from 1905. Her exploits hit the headlines, but in that class-obsessed, male-dominated world, West hid aspects of her own identity. Consequently as Stapleton—a former bookseller at Wenlock Books—discovers, she was a most unreliable witness to her own life.

Reviews

3 stars out of 5
16 Jun 2019

"The untold story of an Edwardian detective and her eccentric sleuthing skills."

This is a book that gets better as it goes on, the more the reader knows about West. I kept thinking as I read that she would fare better on the screen than the page and impressively, the television rights have already been sold to ITV Studios and Tall Story Pictures — a testament to how compelling a character West is. There is just a little too much of the author in this biography and not quite enough of its fascinating subject.

4 stars out of 5
15 Jun 2019

"The rollicking adventures of a real-life female sleuth"

Susannah Stapleton’s erudite but hugely entertaining debut is a true-life detective story about the quest for a true-life detective. A longstanding fan of Golden Age crime fiction, Stapleton is reading a 1930s Gladys Mitchell novel featuring the sleuth Mrs Bradley when she has a sudden thought: were there any non-fictional female sleuths around at the time? Reaching for her laptop, she soon finds a reference to Maud West, who billed herself as ‘London’s only lady detective’. And with that, writes Stapleton, in by no means the book’s only use of classic detective-story phrases, ‘The game was afoot’.

4 stars out of 5

"Ysenda Maxtone Graham enjoys this biography of a Golden Age detective"

Stapleton is a frank and funny writer, her only fault being a slight tendency to pad. She is skilful in mingling two strands of social history: the daily working life of a self-employed lady detective in the early 20th century chronicling the crimes she solved; and the true life story of a complex woman who, as Stapleton puts it,“took the poor hand dealt to her at birth and transformed it into a life that would be the envy of millions”.